A Trip to Central (Way Upstate) New York
It’s currently day 3 of my visit to my parent’s home in good ol’ Oneida County. I consider the opportunity visit one filled with home cooked meals, sleeping beyond the usual 6 hours per night, and of course, gettin’ work done.
One checklist item is finding a way to communicate the relatable measures of carbon dioxide. Simply using ‘pounds of’ or ‘grams of’ can work when talking big numbers. For example: “In 2010, the world’s data centers produced a whopping 130 million tons of CO2 emissions.” Upon first listen, a huge number like that can be shocking. However, the effect can soon wear off quickly, leaving us to ask, “Ok, that is a lot of CO2, but what does that actually mean and just what is a ton of CO2 really?” Well, I think I’ve found a solution and been spending the better part of my Saturday and Sunday prepping and painting it. (many thanks to Cooper, Liz, and my parents for discussion and manual labor)
The solution, which I’ll keep in the ol’ hopper until April 25th (thesis defense), is part of a larger strategy to communicate my thesis within 7 minutes. In that time, I need educate and relate the topic of my research - cloud-based computing and the environment - to my audience along with my proposed product. My larger strategy is inspired by Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten which communicates incomprehensible scale beautifully. While I’m developing a narrative to present my thesis, I’ve been outlining the features I wish to highlight of my recently branded product, Canary.
Having multiple meetings with Cooper, Sera, and a few first-years, I came away with a few great ideas to guide my branding process, namely (pun intended): including the word of what is being measured, bytes; using action words; and playing with encouraging words of creation, more specifically around Nike Fuel’s efforts eg: Nike Fuel is to Calories what (my product) is to Bytes. Despite our efforts, I was still stuck. Then, I remembered something Cooper wrote down on a whiteboard a few weeks ago, “service as sensor”. After an inspired breakfast in the park, out came Canary - the original gas sensor.
Some classmates of mine warned me that the name did have some negative implications and was a bit dramatic. But Michael Yap encouraged me to redefine old words with updated definitions for modern times, stating “Words are containers: you can empty existing meanings and fill them with new ones.”
With a name under my belt and branding sketches drawn on my train ride heading upstate, I sketched out concept maps for both the problem space as well as the Canary product. This laid the groundwork for my current workload: finalizing features and wireframe development. Taking a peek at my schedule of deliverables, I will spend the next 4 days flushing out user flows and wireframes while developing the website shell for my product launch. This development work (which by the way I’m starting to love front-end coding again, HT to Zeldman, Jason Santa Maria, and schoolmates) is also part of another project I’m about to launch, The Coal Button.
Making, outlining, refining, programming, designing, and writing has been the sum of my last two weeks on thesis roller coaster. It’s really, really fun right now and tomorrow, another train ride back to the city and school.